War veterans commemorate 70th anniversary of the end of World War II

Members of the SAF Veterans League standing on the steps of the National Gallery Singapore, on Aug 27, 2015.
Members of the SAF Veterans League standing on the steps of the National Gallery Singapore, on Aug 27, 2015. PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
Members of the SAF Veterans League observing a minute of silence inside the City Hall Chamber (now part of the National Gallery Singapore) on Aug 27, 2015.
Members of the SAF Veterans League observing a minute of silence inside the City Hall Chamber (now part of the National Gallery Singapore) on Aug 27, 2015. PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
Madam Chia Siok Hew, a WWII survivor, inside the City Hall Chamber (now part of the National Gallery Singapore) on Aug 27, 2015.
Madam Chia Siok Hew, a WWII survivor, inside the City Hall Chamber (now part of the National Gallery Singapore) on Aug 27, 2015. PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong (right) interacting with members of the SAF Veterans League, inside the City Hall Chamber, (now part of the National Gallery Singapore) on Aug 27, 2015.
Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong (right) interacting with members of the SAF Veterans League, inside the City Hall Chamber, (now part of the National Gallery Singapore) on Aug 27, 2015. PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
A silent prayer being led by the Inter Religious Organisation (IRO) for peace inside the City Hall Chamber (now part of the National Gallery Singapore) on Aug 27, 2015.
A silent prayer being led by the Inter Religious Organisation (IRO) for peace inside the City Hall Chamber (now part of the National Gallery Singapore) on Aug 27, 2015. PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

SINGAPORE - He remembers the shrill whistle of Japanese bombs falling through the air, and the sound of artillery fire thundering past.

The image of dead bodies lying on streets crawling with maggots is something retired Major Ishwar Lall Singh cannot forget.

The 86-year-old was recounting his experiences during World War II at an event commemorating the 70th anniversary of the end of the war on Thursday.

"With very few able to lend a helping hand, many died due to lack of proper care, food and medicine," said Mr Singh. "Scabies, malaria and dysentery were common ailments that afflicted the whole population."

The ceremony, which was attended by war survivors, war veterans and Inter-Religious Organisation representatives also included a segment in which Cultural Medallion recipient Professor Edwin Thumboo read a poem he wrote about on growing up during the war.

A minute of silence was also observed.

The event was held at at the then-Municipal Building - today's City Hall Chamber - at the National Gallery of Singapore.

It where British Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten, the Supreme Allied Commander in Southeast Asia, accepted the surrender of the Japanese forces in South-east Asia on Sept 12, 1945.

The ceremony was officiated by Minister of Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong.

In his speech Mr Wong said such memories and accounts, as shared by Major Singh and Professor Thumboo, are part of Singapore's history.

"As we look back, let us never forget the lessons we learned about the importance of peace and stability across nations, and the price that comes with violence and conflict," he said.

He added that strong bilateral ties exist between Singapore and Japan today. He said that it was possible to move on with "sincerity and largeness of spirit on both sides".